23 August 2007

The French Connection

Merci, Google! C’est génial! Vous méritez ma gratitude la plus profonde.

What are the chances of finding a long-lost relative in Paris after my father journeyed there, followed a number of leads, and returned home disappointed?

For as long as I can remember, Father spoke fondly of his first cousin, Madeleine. He had met her only once, in Paris, 1962. She was a teenager then. Her parents later reported she had a career in the movie business. Father longed to see her again, but on every Paris visit, Madeleine was unavailable.

In Cyprus, my parents named their third child after Madeleine. And twenty years later in France, cousin Madeleine passed away under mysterious circumstances. She was 39. By the time we learned this, Madeleine’s parents had also died. All hope of reconnection was now lost.

Guillot, at 22
1943 - 1982

In 1997, my father journeyed to Paris on a fact-finding mission. He wanted to know what happened to Madeleine. His first stop was the Armenian Church headquarters where he located the official record of Madeleine’s death. And there he discovered for the first time, that Madeleine had a daughter. No further details.

So Father sought other Elmadjians (our shared surname) in Paris. Someone should know the family... Every phone call yielded the same reply. Unknown. He returned to Cyprus profoundly disappointed.

Time passed. Life happened. In Cyprus. In England. In France, we knew there lived a young girl without her mother.

Enter the worldwide web, the fountain of fact and fiction. Knowing my father had given up hope of ever finding Madeleine’s child, I determined to test the source of all things known. I Googled “Elmadjian” and found links to a Stéphane Elmadjian, a film producer.

It was unlikely that Stéphane was related, as Madeleine had only one child, a girl. Plus, the surname of any child would not bear the mother’s maiden name, but the father’s.

After hours of chasing after French links, Google produced an email. I wrote. He replied. And over the past week, the mysteries unfold...

Stéphane Elmadjian is Madeleine’s only son, not daughter!
At 41, he is an award-winning film producer and editor. He uses his mother’s surname for all his work artistique, in honor of her memory. The lost has been Googled. And found. For real.


Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you. What a tremendous, uplifting story! Someone in the news recently said something like "...the internet is dead." I think not. How's the book coming? You know, "Life@4mph" sounds like a greast title when you think about it.


Unknown said...

i knew a madeleine elmadjian in paris, back in 1954-55-56. we spent a couple of years in the same school: ecole communale de jeunes filles, rue buffault.
could it be the same family? i have a school picture, and madeleine is sitting right in the front row.
would anyone like to see it?
irene evdos.

Ani Holdsworth said...

Irene, that would be fabulous, please email the photo (by clicking on the red mailbox) and I'll forward it to Stephane. Thank you!

Unknown said...

sorry, i would love to forward that picture... but i don't know how!
i'm not on face book, i don't have a blog, just a couple of e-mail addresses.
clicking the red mailbox didn't do anything...

Ani Holdsworth said...

Irene, send another comment with your email address in it. I will not "publish" your email here, but respond to you privately so we can communicate. Thanks!